The League

Gene Wang
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Gene Wang

A sports staff writer at The Washington Post

In D.C., Allen vs. Landry

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The NBA had Larry Bird vs. Magic Johnson to energize basketball on the college and professional levels. In the NFL, individual rivalries often are secondary to that of franchises, for instance Steelers-Ravens, Colts-Patriots, Packers-Bears and Raiders-Broncos.

Around these parts, nothing stirs more passion than Cowboys-Redskins. I grew up in Washington, D.C., and remain startled at times by the level of vitriol the Redskins faithful have toward Dallas fans, players and coaches.

We can thank two fiercely competitive coaches for that: George Allen and Tom Landry.

Allen got one of the most storied rivalries in sports rolling soon after he became Washington's head coach in 1971. He never hesitated to voice his displeasure for the Dallas franchise and used the Cowboys' aura of arrogance as motivation for his players. Allen was a rah-rah coach, which fit in perfectly with his "Over the Hill Gang" charges. Stirring speeches filled with Dallas venom defined Allen's tenure with the Redskins, as did a memorable 26-3 thrashing of the Cowboys in the 1972 NFC championship game.

Landry, on the other hand, was as stoic and unemotional as they come. The Man in the Hat rarely allowed a smile. His coaching methods included using computer analysis, which only added to his robotic persona. His quarterback was a buttoned-up former Navy Midshipman named Roger Staubach.

Allen so disliked Landry that he probably would have met his counterpart in a dark alley for a fist fight. Allen's players knew it, and they gave corresponding effort on the field whenever they played Dallas.

Washington fans, and the NFL to a large degree, owe a large debt to Allen for introducing the Redskins-Cowboys rivalry to a national audience and making it must-watch TV every season.

By Gene Wang  |  March 27, 2009; 10:01 AM ET  | Category:  NFL Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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